PRE-FEDERATION STORY OF CROOKWELL POST OFFICE
(Contributed by Public Relations Officer, P.M.G.’s Department)
The story of efforts to establish the Post Office at Crookwell carries with it the story of Crookwell’s early days when the settlement was a few huts at Brooklands. It has been supplied by the Postmaster-General Department from its records.
Binda, Tuen,a Wheeo and Laggan all had post offices before one was considered for Crookwell and the residents of “The Crookwell” received and sent their letters from the Laggan office.
Whiting resigned in April, 1875. He recommended Walter Pitty, who was to succeed him in business, as the next postmaster. Pitty was formerly employed at Goulburn in the business of William Davies and Jacob Alexander. These two men had been sureties for Whiting and now became sureties for Pitty. Pitty was appointed on the 15th May, 1875. When Pitty resigned on the 12th October, 1876 four people applied for the postmastership. Pitty recommended Charles Schroeder as his successor. William George Cox, of the United Steam Flour Mills, said that he would erect an office facing his own place of business office. His application was supported by William Conolly of Goulburn and by E. Butler, M.P., the member for Argyle. The residents forwarded a petition on behalf of Samuel Cox, brother of William George.
COX TAKES OVER
When he heard about this, William George asked the secretary of the Department to draw a distinction between the two Coxes. Conolly also wrote saying that he had heard of Samuel’s application, reminding the Department that the Postmaster-General had promised Butler that William George should be appointed. He pointed out that William George was not connected with storekeeping and that his appointment would therefore be more “palatable” to the other businessmen of the district. However Samuel’s appointment had already been completed - he was appointed on the 1st November, 1876. The Secretary of the Department replied to Conolly that unless it could be shown that Samuel Cox was unable to perform duties the appointment must stand. W.G. was one of his brother’s sureties.
The fourth applicant was Robert Stephenson, whose application was not supported by anybody. In any case it arrived too late.
There had been agitation for a money order office to be opened. As Cox’s sureties were prepared to join him in a bond for an additional £400, such an office was opened on 1st January, 1878.
There appears about this time to have been a little squabble in the town; unfortunately, full particulars are not available from the records of this Department. There were complaints that the postmaster had been incival and that the office was not centrally situated.
On 4th January, 1878, E. Butler forwarded a petition against these complaints. He suggested that they had their origin “spleen against him (the postmaster) for his action at the late election for Argyle.”
Later that year, W.G. Cox begged to decline being in any way held responsible or surety as he was leaving the district. He was informed that he had no power to withdraw from his responsibility. However the postmaster was asked to submit the name of another surety. Samuel said that he had no word of W.G’s proposed move, either orally or by letter, but submitted the name of John Pitcher, a hotelkeeper. Anthony Cox a brother to Frederick, a wheelwright in Goulburn, offered to go surety to whatever extent was required, but was informed that this had already been obtained.
The first mention of a telegraph line was in 1880. The telegraph office was completed in April of that year, and opened shortly afterwards. Later that year, it was amalgamated with the post office, and Robert Dixon the telegraph master, was appointed to the position of
post and telegraph master.
In addition to his commission on the sale of postage stamps, he received a salary of £170 p.a.
£150 p.a. being for telegraph and £20 p.a. being for postal duties. In addition, he had the use of the post office residence, the rental of which was £50 p.a.
Dixon’s total salary for the succeeding twelve months (including rent allowance) was £230/14/3. As the revenue of the post office for the same period was only £191/1/11, this was a fairly good salary.
By 9th March, 1882 however the revenue for the proceeding twelve months had increased to £338/2/6.
In view of this, Dixon’s postal salary was increased to £35p.a. (the postal business transacted at the office had increased from £136/3/- to £250/11/6.)
On 28th April, 1882, Dixon reported that his assistant Roberts, who had been a telegraph probationer on a weekly wage of 2/6 was resigning. He asked for his wife to be appointed at a slight remuneration. Mrs Dixon was appointed at £12 p.a. Dixon asked that the salary of £12 p.a. paid to his wife be reconsidered. He pointed out that a messenger would cost the Department £26 p.a. The reason for asking for a salary for his wife was to enable him to pay a servant. His wife had knowledge of telegraphy. Moreover, he would rather have his wife work in the office than a stranger.
For some time Dixon had been asking for promotion to a larger office. In March of the next year (1883), he exchanged positions with F.J. Fowler, the post and telegraph master at Murrumburrah.
The next year, he applied to Crookwell on hearing that Fowler had been suspended. As his wife’s health had been suffering at Murrumburrah, Dixon was willing to lose salary to return to Crookwell. However, the position was given on the 29th May, 1884, to J. Walter, who had been post and telegraph master at Moruya.
Postmasters in those days still retained a great deal of independence of Head Office. This is shown by the fact that on 6th May, 1885, Michael O’Shannessy applied for a position of assistant. No answer was received from Head Office. He applied again on 4th November, 1885. It was approved in December, but O’Shannessy had been in the position since the previous February.
Walter was postmaster at Crookwell until 1906. His place was taken on 15th May, 1906 by J.B. Biset. Biset was replaced on 1st March 1907 by H. Taylor, Postmaster, Narrabri West.
The spelling and grammar in this document is verbatim from the original document. The Crookwell and District Historical Society, or any of its members either individually or collectively, accepts no responsibility for any information contained in this article. Anyone acting on such information does so at their own liability.